My village diary – 4 “My uncle calls me before driving from Nairobi to check the condition of the roads”

Cellphones communication in a remote village in South eastern Kenya – 4

I  had evening tea with my cousin Muendo and my adopted brother Kyalo. They both graduated from high school last December. (Kyalo is my neighbor’s son. He moved in with dad 10 years ago, after mom passed on,  to take care of dad and keep him company while we were away. He has become part of the family, our brother).

“So boys, how did exams go?” I demanded.

 Both were disinterested in this conversation, instead they were  “glued” on their cellphones. They dismissed my question, mumbled a few inconsistencies and stayed hooked on their cellphones.

“Okay boys, lets talk about cellphones,” I changed the conversation. They all jumped in the conversation, as if competing for talking time!

“How did you afford to buy the phones and yet you’re not working?” I asked

Muendo said “One of my Bestes (slang for friends) sold it to me for 1000 shillings. I paid half, I will pay the rest slowly”

Kyalo said “It is a gift from my uncle”

Me: “So how do you afford credit (calling units)”
Kyalo: “I don’t call, my uncles and cousins in Nairobi call me to find out how we are” Sometimes I buy credit for 10 bob (slag for shillings) to text my friends.

Me: How much does one sms cost? 

One bob (One shilling), said kyalo. (1 Canadian dollar = 85 shillings. You can do the math!)

Me: Okay, so how else do you use the cellphones?
Muendo: “Sometimes when it is raining uncle calls me to find out if the roads are good, if other vehicles are passing through the mudroads and also to check how grandpa and grandpa are doing”.

He goes on: “I also use the cellphone to chat with ma beste (friends)”

Me: “To chat with ma beste or chicks? (We still call girlfriends chicks in this part of the world!)

They both burst out laughing…

Me: Okay, how else do you use the phones?

Kyalo: “We also use the cellphones to download music– audio and video. We enjoy listening to music.

How does that work? I ask

Muendo: “If your cellphone has blue tooth like mine (he has a blackberry) you can download as many songs as you want for free. You can also buy a memory card to save the music.

I don’t get it, I said!

They both laughed at me!

It was getting dark and Muendo had to leave. I said to them “this sounds sophisticated to me, let us continue with the conversation when I come to visit grand pa and grand ma on Sunday”.

And with that, Muendo left and Kyalo escorted him. They illuminated the pathway with their cellphones. As I watched them disappear in the darkness, with their cellphones flickering away, I thought to myself, wow, these cellphones are indeed multipurpose. They come in handy in a variety of situations….

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